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English Breakfast Tea: Not Your Typical Morning Tea

Fact Checked

English breakfast tea

Story at-a-glance -

  • English breakfast tea is a classic black tea that is made from different blends of tea, such as Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon
  • English breakfast tea can be enjoyed anytime of the day. It is full-bodied, tangy and rich, with a dark red color and a relaxing fragrance with slight notes of raisins
  • This tea blend has caffeine, so if you are caffeine-sensitive, you should limit or avoid drinking English breakfast tea, as it may lead to neurological changes, rapid heart rate and other issues

One of the best things about tea is that you'll never run out of flavors, blends or varieties to choose from. However, if you prefer strong black tea over the mild flavors of white and green tea, or even herbal teas, then there's one type that you may love to sip on: English breakfast tea.

Despite its name, English breakfast tea is actually a delicious blend that can be enjoyed any time of the day. This robust beverage also delivers a number of health benefits. Here's what you need to know about English breakfast tea, including its history, preferred brewing methods and other interesting facts.

What Is English Breakfast Tea?

English breakfast tea is a classic black tea that is made from different blends of tea, such as Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon teas.1 These different types of tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant — the same plant from which green, oolong and white teas are made.

Frank Sanchez of Uptown Tea Imports, who says that the English breakfast tea started as a Chinese congou tea, gave a short overview of how this blend came to The Kitchn:2

"The English started importing Chinese tea in the 17th century and then it really kicked into gear in the 18th century.

"Then, during the Opium Wars, China imposed an embargo on tea. Around the same time, the British East India Company started producing tea in Assam, India. For a while, the old stocks of Chinese tea were dwindling and the new stocks of Indian tea started coming in, and they were blended together.

Jump ahead to the end of the 19th century and tea was beginning to be produced in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). You started to have a stronger and stronger Ceylon component in English breakfast tea."

You may be wondering how this blend acquired its name. Typically, breakfast teas such as these are created as an accompanying beverage to the traditional English morning meal, which is hearty, rich and often composed of foods like pork, beef and bread.3 It's said that the strong flavor and the caffeine in the beverage give tea drinkers added mental alertness and helps boost their physical energy in the morning.4

Today, however, English breakfast tea can be enjoyed anytime of the day. It is full-bodied, tangy and rich, with a dark red color and a relaxing fragrance with slight notes of raisins. This drink can be blended with lemon or milk5 (although take note that adding dairy may affect the nutrition profile of the tea).

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4 Benefits of English Breakfast Tea

The benefits that English breakfast tea offer are quite similar to those offered by other black teas. These include:

  • Helping eliminate free radicals and slowing aging — This tea comes with natural antioxidants called flavonoids, which are said to help reduce free radicals in the body.6
  • Promoting good circulation — One study published in the journal Circulation found that people struggling with coronary artery problems had better circulation after consuming black tea for four weeks.7
  • Helping promote heart health — Aside from improving cholesterol levels, black tea may also help reduce heart attack risk. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that an increased intake of black tea may help inhibit ischemic heart disease.8
  • Helping with weight management and optimizing metabolism — A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that decaffeinated black tea may stimulate the production of good bacteria in the gut. It also uses and changes our energy metabolism in the liver via gut metabolites.9

English Breakfast Tea Caffeine Content

Since it's made from black tea, this tea blend has caffeine. But how much caffeine is there in English breakfast tea? According to a study published in the International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases, the amount ranges from 60 to 90 milligrams in every 8-ounce cup. This is less than half the amount that you can get from sipping a cup of coffee.10

If you are caffeine-sensitive, you should limit or avoid drinking English breakfast tea, as the caffeine in it could lead to neurological changes,11 rapid heart rate12 and other issues.

How to Make English Breakfast Tea

You can use tea bags or loose leaf tea to create the perfect cup of English breakfast tea. Here's a simple recipe from SparkRecipe that you can follow:13

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons loose leaf English breakfast tea or 2 to 3 teabags
  • Hot water, for cleaning the teapot
  • 20 ounces boiling water, for steeping
  • Lemon wedges

Procedure

  1. Using hot water, warm your clean teapot, and then throw the water away.
  2. Fill the pot again with fresh boiling water.
  3. Add the loose leaves or the teabags to the pot and allow to brew for three to five minutes before serving.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges.

This makes four cups of tea.

How to Store English Breakfast Tea

Similar to wine, tea can become flat and lose its flavor over time. For English breakfast and other black teas, the typical shelf life is around two years — however, if improperly stored, it may become stale much sooner than that.

Ideally, store the tea, whether loose leaf or teabags, in an airtight container. Keep in a cool, dark place, like a pantry, away from other pungent cooking ingredients, as tea can absorb other strong odors. Do not store it in a refrigerator, though, as the moisture can cause it to degrade faster.14

English Breakfast Tea Side Effects

Too much of anything can sometimes cause problems, and this is true even when it comes to a healthy tea like English breakfast tea. This is because the tannins in black tea, which are water-soluble polyphenols,15 may lead to several side effects, such as vomiting, nausea and stomach upset, if consumed in excessive amounts.16

People who are recovering from a heart attack or acute cardiovascular disorders should also refrain from drinking English breakfast tea — or other highly caffeinated beverages — because of the effects of caffeine on heart rate. The same goes for pregnant women and nursing moms, as the caffeine may affect their child's health.

A 2017 study noted that consuming high amounts of caffeine from coffee and tea during the second trimester of pregnancy may have effects on the brain of the fetus, potentially leading to behavioral disorders later in life.17

Enjoy English Breakfast Tea Any Time of the Day (but Moderate Your Intake)

Just because it's labeled a breakfast tea doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to only drinking it in the morning. This is one of the top tea products enjoyed everywhere not only for its health benefits but also its robust flavor. It will certainly wake you up — but that's most likely because of its caffeine.

If you're caffeine-sensitive, limit your intake of this tea or avoid it completely — don't worry, there are other caffeine-free tea varieties out there you can opt for, like matcha, tulsi or ginger tea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About English Breakfast Tea

Q: Does English breakfast tea have caffeine?

A: Yes. Every 8-ounce cup can contain 60 to 90 milligrams of caffeine.18

Q: How should you drink English breakfast tea?

A: English breakfast tea is traditionally enjoyed hot. It can be flavored with lemon or milk. Be warned that adding milk may affect the antioxidants in the tea, though.

Note: When buying tea of any kind, make sure that it's organic and grown in a pristine environment. The Camellia sinensis plant in particular is very efficient in absorbing lead, fluoride and other heavy metals and pesticides from the soil, which can then be taken up into the leaves. To avoid ingesting these dangerous toxins, a clean growing environment is essential, so that you can be sure you're ingesting only pure, high-quality tea.